Byline: Sneh Rupra
After the smashing success of Gal Gadot’s first outing as the ground-breaking heroine, Wonder Woman returns in a timely blockbuster that doesn’t pull its political punches.
From director Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot in the title role, ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ fast forwards to the 1980s as Wonder Woman’s next big screen adventure finds her riding lightning across the sky, donning wings of gold, and chasing a dream while in pursuit of two new formidable foes: Max Lord and the Cheetah.
This new chapter in the Wonder Woman story finds Diana Prince living quietly among mortals in the vibrant, sleek 1980s – an era of excess driven by the pursuit of having it all. Though she’s come into her full powers, she maintains a low profile, curating ancient artifacts and only performing her superheroic acts incognito. But now, Diana will have to step directly into the spotlight and muster all her wisdom, strength and courage in order to save mankind from a world of its own making.
Jenkins directed from a screenplay she wrote with Geoff Johns & Dave Callaham, story by Jenkins & Johns, based on characters from DC. The film also stars Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Kristen Wiig as the Cheetah, Pedro Pascal as Max Lord, Robin Wright as Antiope and Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta.
“It feels really great to finally share something with the world and to have something to share with the world in this time,” says Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins, whose explosive blockbuster sequel hits UK cinemas on 16th December.
About her inspiration for the film, which features superheroine Diana going up against a power-hungry blonde businessman, Jenkins says, “I started reflecting on what I kind of felt like the the what was going on in our world and what Wonder Woman would want to say to the world, and the story came out of that.”
“She’s trying to teach everyone she encounters how to be their better self and trying to help mankind to be better,” continues Jenkins.
“So I think getting into Diana’s whole relationship with with humanity…the last [film] was her discovery of humanity. Now, how does she live within humanity? And by the way, she’s not perfect either. So it’s about her own struggles and journey to do the right thing, which is so universal to all of us – being a hero is not an easy thing. It’s actually a super difficult thing. So that I was really interested in, what does that feel like?”
The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal plays villain Maxwell Lord, and says, “I call it the Patty Jenkins experience. You can’t get away with something that is the typical – it has to be complete and have all the risks and all of the danger and ultimately the humanity. No matter how dark of a character it is, you have to make the experience as honest as possible.”
Wonder Woman herself Gal Gadot, speaking about the power of her character in inspiring others says: “I wasn’t lucky enough to see so many Wonder Women type characters when I was growing up. When I watched the movie for the first time… when I saw the opening sequence, it was certainly something, the reaction I had… I got so emotional.
“I realised the power of these movies. I’m a big believer that when you see it, you think you can be it, and then you become it. It’s so powerful, and it’s so strong, and I feel very grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of this.”
Movie Review ‘Wonder Woman 1984’
When Diana’s shy new friend Barbara (Kristen Wiig) identifies a mysterious ancient artefact that can grant wishes, suddenly Diana’s world is turned upside down.
The artefact draws the attention of conspicuously blond TV personality businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), and as all the players chase their greatest desires, the lines become blurred as to who is in the right and who is in the wrong.
Wonder Woman 1984’s greatest triumph is in its complex antagonists, all too recognisable from our present day, and in true Wonder Woman fashion they are combated with understanding and compassion – a refreshing ethos-difference from most male-led superhero flicks.
That’s not to say there aren’t some truly jaw-dropping action sequences – from impressive practical wire-work stunts to Olympic-style feats of excellence and Cirque du Soleil inspired balletic fight scenes that bring a unique, retro energy to the film.
Gal Gadot is a powerful, statuesque presence at the centre of this film, but while the internal conflict Diana undergoes is certainly moving, she remains somewhat removed from the audience and difficult to connect with emotionally. This problem is balanced out by a warm and funny performance from Chris Pine, whose character must go through a complete role reversal from the first film, as a fish out of water as Diana introduces him to a whole new world. This provides some much-needed levity in a fairly action-heavy film with a two and a half hour run time.
The best performances are without out a doubt from Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal, who show us two very different sides of what a lust for power can look like and can lead to. Wiig utilises her comedy background, but also delivers a complex and nuance portrait of desperation and drive, while Pascal camps up his usually serious dramatic roles and offers a classic comic-book style maniac without ever losing the heart of his character’s motivations.
While the film’s overarching message is one of faith in humanity, and a triumph of truth over lies and greed, it still does manage to fall into some unfortunate stereotypical pitfalls. Indian-American actor Ravi Patel is cast as a descendant of the ancient Mayans, native to South and Central America, and shown wearing dreadlocks – a bizarre mishmash of cultures that seems tasteless in an otherwise thoughtful film.
There is also a trend of American action films relocating their heroes to desert countries populated by people of colour, so havoc can be wreaked there instead of on American soil, and WW84 falls into this trap by heading to Cairo and having Wonder Woman take down a string of Arab goons in the name of justice, despite things going wrong all over the world, America included.
The film becomes overstuffed towards the end, with montages that are too sentimental even for a Wonder Woman film, but the lasting message of good triumphing over evil is one that the world sorely needs right now, so maybe the sentimentality can be forgiven.
Wonder Woman 1984 releases on 16th December